The answer is simple, Yes you can! And it is not that complicated to do. As with all photography, the key is, location, location, location. My first two attempts at this are not perfect by a long measure. But they do show what can be done. Hopefully some of you will do much better.
I have always been fascinated with star photography, to me it is absolutely stunning, done well of course.
To do Star Trails with a mobile phone does mean some compromises. Compared to a SLR you will have to take many more shots and you will run the risk of greater noise in the images. However from my tests so far I think you can come up with something pretty stunning.
Right let’s get down to business, firstly find your location. You will need a tripod for this, otherwise the background will not match in each image and the trails will have kinks in them.
Do some test shots of the scene to make sure you are happy with the location and the frame you have chosen.
- use infinity focus (if you have it). The Nokia 808 does.
- Set the ISO to 100 and take a shot, can you see the background and the stars, if not then reset ISO to 200 and test again. Continue this until you get an image you are happy with
- Time lapse setting, every 5 seconds take an image, with the Nokia 808 you can set it to take a maximum of 1500 images. This is plenty to achieve star trails. In fact 400+ is enough.
- Flash off of course
I also suggest you take something to drink and maybe read, you will be at location for an hour or two. Plus you might need a backup charger, I made sure I had a Nokia DC-16 attached just in case it was needed. The last thing you want is for the phone to run out of battery.
This first attempt was done at ISO 1600 and contains 803 images. The direction is south, basically I just set the phone up in my back garden. I didn’t want to trek too far just in case it didn’t work. As you can undoubtedly see, the image is very noisy, that is due to the high ISO I used. Which is why it is important to start with a low ISO and move up. Hopefully you can get the image you need at around 200 ISO. This will help greatly with the noise level.
This image was done at ISO 200 and contains just 433 images. As you can see the noise level is greatly reduced. This image has had no editing, unlike the first.
Finally, once all your images are done, transfer them to your PC/Mac and use some image stacking software. The easiest one I have found so far is StarStax. It is really simple and you see the image take shape, which is pretty funky.
So please amaze me, those of you that are interested. I would love others to try this as well. I will continue myself and hopefully do something special.